Tuesday, November 19, 2013

MIT Students Using Quanser and NI Tools in Feedback Control Systems Course

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) undergraduate and graduate students taking the Feedback Control Systems course are quite familiar with the Quanser 3 DOF Helicopter system. They use it in the course to prototype and validate their controllers and connect the theory to real-world.

Within a series of lab modules, students are tasked to design roll, pitch and yaw controllers for the 3 DOF Helicopter using various techniques, including root loci, Bode plots, LQR, LQG and dynamic output feedback. At the design and simulation stage, students work in the LabVIEW Control Design and Simulation Module and LabVIEW MathScript RT Module environments. With the 3D visualization of the 3 DOF Helicopter provided, students can easily compare the simulation and the actual physical system.

To test the performance of designed controllers on an actual physical system, students use the Quanser-NI platform, combining Quanser higly nonlinear 3 DOF Helicopter with NI hardware (CompactRIO) and software  tools (LabVIEW FPGA and LabVIEW Real-Time modules). This solution significantly reduces setup time, simplifying connections and testing process so that the lab time can be used for teaching and learning rather than hardware testing. But see it for yourself:

The Quanser-NI platform used at MIT proved not only effective for validating control theory and designed methods, it also helped increase students engagement and interest. As Professor Jonathan How says in the article for National Instruments website,  "...numerous students spent extra time to participate in our optional competition, in which the helicopter is to autonomously traverse a virtual obstacle course. Since the completion of the term, several students have independently contacted the course staff due to increased interest in applying LabVIEW to other projects at MIT."
Read more about Professor How's experience with the Quanser-NI platform.

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